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The Tehran Attacks Were A Wake-up Call


Two Iranian security forces look out of the parliament's building in central Tehran during an attack on the complex on June 07, 2017.

The June 7 twin terror attacks at the heart of the Iranian capital, Tehran, left an indelible track of 17 dead and more than 50 wounded behind. For nearly30 years, Tehran -- as the core of the regime -- had experienced nothing like it.

The regime has proudly boasted of its ability to keep Iran’s security as an international paragon. But the credit the regime claims for itself in fact belongs to the opposition. Over past three decades, the dissident and opposition groups in Iran have avoided violence by taking the path of civil disobedience and peaceful resistance.

However, the opposition has no control over Iran’s foreign policy or military interventions. So the responsibility for whatever comes out of them -- including terrorist attacks -- falls squarely on the regime.

Iran frequently boasts of its “tripod strategy” as the guarantor of its security, but last week’s terrorist attacks on the parliament and Ayatollah Khomeini’s mausoleum completely invalidate that. Part of the strategy is the assumption that a presence in volatile areas of the region helps strengthen Iran’s national security -- which is how intervention in Syria is justified to the populace.

The recent attacks are an outright contradiction of this assumption. Attacking the capital was indeed a reaction to Iran’s military presence in Syria and its proxy intervention in Iraq.

Iran frequently boasts of its “tripod strategy” as the guarantor of its security, but last week’s terrorist attacks on the parliament and Ayatollah Khomeini’s mausoleum completely invalidate that.

The clergy, security, and military officials close to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei have always defended hard power against soft power tools. This is the other aspect of the regime’s strategy. In their view, soft power is just another name for diplomacy, and diplomacy means compromise. They give credit for the regime’s so-called achievements to hard power tools -- namely not shying away from violent conflicts and instead fanning the flames of instability.

The June 7 attacks make it clear that warmongering and escalating regional tensions are a boomerang that could easily fly back and hit both the regime and Iranian society -- hard.

Public Scrutiny

For nearly four decades, the ruling clique has only had its security to boast of, while other vital elements such as freedom, liberty, justice, and transparency fall by the wayside.

The attacks have been a wake-up call for the people of Iran that the regime’s policies are actually detrimental to the nation’s security. Iran has always kept mum on issues related to its military intervention in Syria and the war against IS, but now its military presence abroad will come under more public scrutiny.

Smoke is seen during an attack on the Iranian parliament in central Tehran, Iran, June 7, 2017.
Smoke is seen during an attack on the Iranian parliament in central Tehran, Iran, June 7, 2017.

Iranians have already started asking questions about whether such interventionist policies are necessary. The regime can no longer keep the public in the dark about its bloody involvements abroad by using Afghan and Pakistani Shi’a in regional wars and financing aggression with secret budgets.

However, the attacks can also help the hardliners by making it harder for Rouhani to speak out about the necessity of improving relations with the U.S. Already; Khamanei and Revolutionary Guard leaders have accused the U.S. and its ally Saudi Arabia of having a hand in the attacks.

Khamenei and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif have wrongly accused the West of creating IS, which means Rouhani and his moderate/reformist allies will have a hard time defending any rapprochement with the West.

Iran’s human rights record also will suffer. Public protests for simple labor or social issues will be banned more often, and protesters will be arrested. They will lose their only chance of peaceful protest against those who disregard their civic rights. A security atmosphere will prevail, and even the smallest chance for change and reform will be stifled.

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    Majid Mohammadi

    Majid Mohammadi is an Iranian sociologist and political analyst residing in the U.S., who contributes opinion and analysis to Radio Farda.

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